tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC December 21, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PST
owner's property. >> well, it doesn't surprise me at all, because they only care about one thing, and that is guns. and they care about manufacturing guns and selling guns and making money doing that. and that is where the vast majority of the money from the nra comes from, is from the gun industry. and a very, very few individuals who are obsessed with guns. it is not the vast majority, the 4 million members. many people join the nra because they have to in order to use the shooting range. >> yeah, they're showing that the dues now from supporting the nra amounts to less than half of their revenue at this stage. >> yes, a lot of this money is coming from the gun industry. and as i say, a few die-hard adherents, people who do not want to compromise at all. >> richard painter, gets the last word. thank you for joining us. >> thank you very much.
good evening, i'm in for chris matthews. leading off tonight, fiscal cliff hanger. president obama calls on congress to act after christmas on a scaled down deal that would spare the middle class from tax hikes on the first of the year. >> we've heard plenty of people calling for new gun control laws, but very little from the national rifle association until now. in a bizarre news conference that was interrupted twice by protesters, the head of the nra. it's the same line we've heard
before from the nra, but has the country's relationship with guns fundamentally changed since newtown? and what we saw last night from house republicans is yet another symptom of the real problem for the gop. they don't believe in compromise. and they've lurched too far to the right. we begin with where things stand on the fiscal cliff, msnbc political analyst and msnbc contributor jared bernstein. jentle men, president obama tonight said he had spoken with speaker boehner in addition to senate majority leader harry reed.
>> i just spoke to speaker boehner and i also met with senator reed. in the next few days, i've asked leaders of congress to work towards a package that prevents a tax hike on middle class americans, protects unemployment insurance for two million americans and lays the groundwork for further work on both growth and deficit reduction. >> jared, is this actually a setback for the president in so far as the embarrassed speaker with someone at least with whom he was dealing? and now, the president really doesn't have a negotiation partner? >> i do think it's a setback from the nation because the president and speaker boehner were actually moving to a credible, plausible compromise at the very beginning of the week.
of course, that's horribly off track now when john boehner decided to go to plan b. i think the president's lever raj, if anything, is enhanced by this. the problem is that i don't know why republicans would nibble at this idea of essentially passing the senate bill. that's what he was describing today. sometime before the end of the year. then they can have a massive tax cut for the broad, middle class and call it a day. >> the prospect of a grand bargain is absolutely gone for the near turn. there's no way they can craft that in the few days that they have between now and the end of the year. that doesn't mean that next year, they won't be able to sit down and have conversations about tax reform and entitlement reform. but not with these republicans. i don't know why kumbaya is supposed to break out in
january. if the republican caucus continues to basically have gridlock and dysfunction as their ultimate goal, there won't be any reforms. >> what becomes of sequestration if the only thing that can be agreed upon is those who will receive a continued tax break. >> there's a possibility in a small deal that they agreed to to kick sequestration down the road. it is basically cutting the taxes on the broad middle class, resetting the a.m.t. so medicare doctors don't take a 30% pay cut by the middle of jab. that's probably what i expect to see. the sequester, maybe they'll agree to kick it down the road, but maybe it will just have to occur. >> david corn, analyze the tea leaves? it seems as if those more conservative members, republican members of the house are just unwilling to go along with any kind of a deal that is interpreted as a tax increase for anybody.
>> the republican clown show got clownier last night, if that's a word. it's kind of funny for those of us who have been watching politics for years to see a speaker of the house fail so miserably to win support for his own measure. so that means the president is really not negotiating with anybody who can really make a deal. he can't cover any check that he'd write at the oval office. i've said all along the real issue is whether boehner can bring along his caucus for anything. he really can't and it puts everything in a tough position. but the president does end up with a more reasonable upper hand. i think jared is right.
>> but the other thing i would just alert you to is, once they get through this, i think what happened last night and what's happening this week is really a bad, a bad omen for what the republicans might try to do once again on the debt ceiling in january or february. >> president obama argued tonight that both parties can agree taxes for the middle class cannot go up. let's watch what he said. >> in ten days, we face a deadline. even though democrats and republicans are arguing about whether those rates can go up for wealthest individuals, all of us agree that tax rates shouldn't go up for the other 98% of americans, which includes 97% of small businesses. every member of congress believes that, every democrat, every republican.
so there is absolutely no reason, none, not to protect these americans from a tax hike. >> david corn, why won't republicans take that deal? >> well, because i think they're scared of being accused of voting for a tax hike on the rich if they do this deal before the tax cuts expire. i mean, i think, you know, jared and i and others have said for weeks now, it would be a lot easier for republicans after the expiration of these tax cuts to come and vote for the 98% below and say hey, we took the best tax cut deal we can. that's where we are now. that's why people are talking about having to go over the cliff. but even at that point, i think it still looks like it's going to be very hard for the speaker,
to come up with any deal with these tea party republicans because i think a lot of themt just don't want a deal. >> jared, i think that many in the country, and i speak to folks every day for three hours a day, i think that many were hoping for so much more, republicans and dem krats who took a career at that year-long effort simpson bowls and thought it had some attractive qualities because it was equal pay. the military was getting cut. entitlements were being reformed, taxes were being altered. we're nowhere near that now. >> put me on that list. i may be a hard boiled d.c. policy wonk, but i'm exactly where they are. i think that compromise is the only way we get from where we are to where we need to go. and what i've tried to stress is that we -- and the president has been good on this lately, as well. we actually have an economic recovery. it's not strong enough yet, but it is starting to gain some traction. the idea that you would deal a self-inflicted blow is crazy. listen, a couple points, just amplifying some things say first of all, the deal that the
president is talking about is a very old deal. this is nothing new. not only will republicans not vote for it because of the 2% that they didn't make, the top .2%. that was the plan b. that's how out of touch they are. on the debt ceiling, the president has continuously said i will not negotiate. republicans are operating from a play book where we go over the cliff and they get some leverage because of the debt ceiling. he must not negotiate with republicans on the debt ceiling. >> one more clim. president obama said there's a difference where the american people are and where congress is. watch this. >> it's true. >> and people are a lot more sensible and a lot more thoughtful and much more willing to compromise and give and sacrifice and act responsibly than their elected representatives are.
there's a mismatch right now between how everybody else is thinking about these problems. democrats and republicans. outside of this town and how folks are operating here. we've just got to get that aligned. nobody can get a hundred percent of what they want. and this is not simply a contest between parties in terms of who looks good and who doesn't. >> david corn, that is the eference to moments ago. that's what i hear on a day-to-day basis. people are critical on the rs and the ds and say my god, why can't they be adults and hash out a deal here? >> the real issue is republy lan house members. not even republican senators. he's doing what he often does, he's being soft on the opposition at this point in time. he also mentioned he was talking to john boehner. i think he still has some faith here -- or hope. so in a statement today, he didn't really whack boehner at all. he didn't make the distinction between democrats and
republicans and just attacked the vague congress. but at the end of the day, it's quite clear that he can bring a lot more democrats to the table who are willing to compromise and maybe give on issues that they don't want to give on than boehner can. this isn't a congressional problem. it's not even a republican problem. it's a house republican problem. i think at some point in time, the president is going to have to change his message a little bit to make that abundantly clear to those americans that will listen. >> i hear your frustration and criticism with speaker boehner. a part of me feels sorry for him. >> i'm under the belief that president obama and speaker boehner in a room together can cut this deal. i think that boehner can't control his colleagues. >> well, yes, that's true and i've heard this sympathy for boehner idea today. i kind of share it. but on the other hand, really good politicians solve problems. he hasn't been able to solve that problem at all.
look, the one thing, michael, i'm very much with you and with the folks you've been talking to in the sentiment to you and the president express. but i do want to avoid the puck is on both houses when you say democrats and republicans. at least the president has really come a long way. he gave the republicans a higher income tax threshold. he gave the chain cpi. he cut the debt ceiling in the deal. he gave them another trillion dollars in spending cuts. i think he's absolutely in the right when he says i have tried to compromise and i've been met with complete intransigence. >> an aide tells nbc news senator reid believes republicans should return to negotiating table and work with democrats that avoids the fiscal cliff all together. republicans should support passing a bill that extends tax cuts for families up to $250,000 and delays the so-called sequester while we negotiate
additional policies next year. but the bottom line is moving forward will require cooperation from speaker boehner and senator mechanic connell. we hope they'll return from christmas ready to coop rate. >> well, you know, senator reid can try to fill that vacuum. but he controls one-half of one of the two bodies in congress. it still boils down to this dynamic that hasn't changed now for a year and a half. the democrats, and you've got to include reid and the president, are negotiating with a side led by john boehner who, despite whatever he may want to do himself, can't bring together his own team. he's being held hostage by his own kau cuss. now, i wrote this in the book i had about the last time we went through this a year and a half ago, that mitch mcconnell is one of the craftiest negotiators on capitol hill.
last year, when we had this fight of the payroll tax cut, he leaned on boehner and boehner basically bucked his own caucus and they got a deal done with the clock ticking. >> not much time left on that clock. i've got to move, guys. i apologize. thank you, david corn. thank you, jared. we appreciate your time. >> the nra speaks one week after the connecticut school massacre. that's ahead. this is "hardball," the place for politics.
it's been a week since the massacre in newtown. today the national rifle association waded into the debate over gun control with a strange press conference. the group's ceo wayne lapierre blames laws banning guns at school for the violence. his position, nor guns. the nra called for putting an armed guard at every school in the country. >> the only way to stop a
monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. i call on congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to have put armed police officers in every single school in this nation. and to do it now. >> to train thousands of armed guards and what would it accomplish? would one armed person really have been able to stop last week's killer with his semiautomatic rifle and body armor? steve siebold is the author of the book "sex, politics, and religion ,"and david corn is the washington bureau chief for "mother jones" magazine. mr. siebold, are you comfortable with what the nra put forward today? >> well, absolutely. i mean, this is the only answer. that more guns equals less crime.
i mean, if we don't arm the teachers, if we don't have guards at the schools, this is going to happen again. there's no question about it, whether we do this or not. but at least the teachers have a fighting chance. at least they have a fighting chance to save those little kids. >> do i understand your view to be that it would be a requirement for teachers? what if i'm a teacher who doesn't want to carry a firearm? i'm not proficient and i want nothing to do with guns. >> i don't want my kid in your class, then. because my kid is in danger -- >> wow? real? >> i'll send my kid to another school. >> so to a young person today who's pursuing a career in education, they would also need to be trained and comfortedble with the idea of carrying a weapon? >> unfortunately, this is the world we live in. >> by that logic -- one last thing, david. by that logic, why not arm the students as well. >> because the students are children. you don't arm children.
>> an 18-year-old? a high school? an 18-year-old high school senior, i mean, by your logic, they, too, should all be carrying weapons. and the lunch ladies and the bus driver? >> no, but the college kids should be armed. absolutely. they have the right to protect themselves. the government cannot protect us. they can't be everywhere all of the time. the government is this delusional thing. >> david, it's such a complicated segment. i hate to play into the sound byte mentality that this week has become. we're 5% of the world's population and we have 50% of the guns. >> i think today, the nra planted a flag on planet bizaro. i hate to use a sound byte like that. but we have more guns in this country and we have more gun violence in this country than any other western industrialized nation. and they don't seal ink. and then what they say is we need more guns like our guests just said. that's the world we live in. no, we live in the world where everyone around the country has mentally deranged people. they have violent video games, violent music, as we do.
but, yet, they don't have the number of guns we have. and strikingly, oddly enough, they don't have the same gun violence that we do. i don't know why that point escapes lapierre and our guest on the show tonight. >> i feel naive. i really thought today because the nra said they were bringing forth contributions, i expected them to embrace universal background checks. i thought that the nra might get out of a ban on military-style assault weapons. i don't think today's message played out so well, which is what david is saying in middle america. >> the problem is not the nra. the problem is we're having the wrong conversation, as usual, in this country. normal people don't shoot peel. >> but what i'm trying to say is that the mentally ill have free access. the new york times had a front page story about the swiss cheese nature of the f.b.i.'s recordkeeping pertaining to
those who have mental illness. >> listen, michael. the nra -- this is what wayne lapierre said. he talked about mental illness. they are opposed to background checks on people who go to gun shows, who sell guns from one to another privately. it doesn't matter. >> i wish we had more time. thank you, david corn. thank you steven siebold. up next, the most challenged quotes of the year. and if you want to follow me on twitter, you jest need to know how to spell smerconish. this is "hardball," the place for politics.
factually challenged. we were part of the big ones saying that jeep was shipping american jobs over to china and the one from an obama super pact that seemed to blame bain capitol and mitt romney. let's look at the ones that might have slipped your minds. >> half the people are euthanized every year, half of those people are euthanized involuntarily in hospitals because they are elderly and sick. so elderly people in the netherlands don't go to the hospital. they go to another country because they're afraid because of budget purposes that they will not come out of that hospital. >> don't go trying to track down statistics about involuntary euthanazia in the netherlands. you will find no facts.
>> the word is out that he hasn't paid any taxes for ten years. let him prove that he has paid taxes because he hasn't. >> reid said he got his information from a former bain investor. but without any concrete evidence or further explanation, he was awarded the maximum number of pinochioes. led her to take her own nachl out of the running for secretary of state. her opening line for an event for u.n. correspondence last night, "my talking points for this evening have been provided and fully cleared by the intelligence agency. believe it or not, things took a turn. "day after day, i engage in highly substantive, highly technical negotiations with my colleagues here at the u.n. like the russians. finally, did you think the holidays would come and go without seeing president obama
singing deck the halls? not so. barack's thumbs are back in the game. ♪ ♪ >> that's from the same team that allowed us to have the president sing call me maybe. how will kerry do and who will take his place in the senate? as we look at a live picture on the first family getting ready to depart from andrews air force base en route to their christmas vacation in hawaii. this is "hardball" the place for politics.
it's official. president obama announced he would replace secretary of state with john kerry. >> i'm very proud to announce my nomination for secretary of state, john kerry. in a sense, jorn's entire life has prepared him for this role. as the son of a foreign service officer, he has a deep respect for the men and women of the state department. having served with valor in vietnam, he understands that we have a responsibility to use american power wisely, especially our military pow. >> what does today's announcement mean for the president's second term. and what does it mean for kerry's senate seat? susan milligan and robert costa.
susan, president obama and senator kerry have shared a unique history over the past eight years and that's something that the president referred to today. >> of course, i also have to say thanks because john invited a young illinois state senator to address the democratic convention in boston. i was proud to serve with him on the foreign relations committee under the tutelage of joe biden where we all became friends. of course, nothing brings two people closer together than weeks of debate prep. john, i'm looking forward to working with you instead of debating you. >> susan, i guess the point, they've known each other in a variety of context and work apparently well together. >> they do. and ill think the other thing that's important about senator kerry in this role is that he can help bridge what has historically been a riff in the state department.
they have different missions, but hopefully towards the same goal. he has street cred in both agencies and understands the missions of both agencies. he knows what it's like to have to deal with domestic political pressures when you're trying to make decisions about international security and so forth. he knows most of these foreign leaders from his position as chairman of the senate form lagszs. >> does he necessarily get smooth sailing in the senate, robert costa? i remember how vicious that presidential race became. how some tried to make his vietnam record an issue? what becomes now of his situation in front of his colleagues in the confirmation? >> it's a great question. and i think generally speaking, many conservatives and republicans have a lot of concerns that make a real liberal massachusetts liberal. but inside of the senate, you're not seeing much opposition. remember, susan rice was probably the president's first pick for the state department. she, of course, bowed out.
but senator kerry has already been met with a warm reception by senator rob portman, senator bob corker. republicans are saying he's probably going to easily win confirmation because he's probably one of the club. >> let's talk about another member of the club. susan, a much tougher fight would be if he chooses to nominate chuck hagel for defense. the coming attacks on chuck hagel will make the susan rice episode seem kwant. those attacks have already begun. send us hagel and we will make sure that every american knows that he's an anti-semite. he was asked about the influence of apec, a pro-israel lobby. the jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here. i'm a united states senator. i'm not an israeli senator. >> well, i'd certainly think he's going to be put through the ringer more than senator kerry who will be very, very easily
confirmed. but hagel has a lot of friends in the senate. not as many as he used to because there's been some turnovers. some of the newer senators don't have the respect and consideration they might have for a former colleague. but he's got excellent credentials. he's got two purple hearts. he was an enlisted man. i think they will kind of put him through some paces, wu i don't think it would be the same thing as they planned on doing with susan rice. it seemed to be a little bit more animosity. >> bob costa, what are you hearing on the hill about the fate of chuck hagel? >> i think it's going to be a very contentious nomination process. one of the problems that senator hagel has, when they look at hagel, they see him closer to the democrats since he left the senate. though he would seem like a republican pick, he endorsed bob kerry. and his comments about the jewish lobby and his comments
about homosexuals has caused problems not only on the right, but on the left. one man mentioned as a nomination was actor ben afflec. >> well, for one thing, state of massachusetts currently has two extraordinary senators. >> well, there might be. >> well, one never knows: i'm not one to get into conjecture. i do have a great fondness and admiration for the political process in this country. >> could you see that happening? >> no, absolutely not. i can't see him being appointed to the position and i can't see him running for -- i just think that's sdsh. >> how about teddy, jr.? >> that's a possibility. of course he lives in connecticut, i wouldn't absolutely rule that out. >> how about scott brown? >> scott brown has a tough decision to make. because with kerry going to the state department, this will
create a special election. and scott brown lost in a tough 2012 presidential election year. bu he did win in 2010 in an off-year election. he's going to look at his numbers and say do i have the numbers in an off year. >> but, susan, he'd be running three times within six years. >> it's a lot of money to raise. it's a lot of campaigning to do. ip think it's a little difficult to come off of a losing campaign. he did win in an off-year, but he also won in a special election. i actually wouldn't be surprised if he was biding his time to run for governor. >> michael, what's interesting about scott brown, if you watched his concession speech, this did not seem like a man whofgs ready to leave politics. >> i'm not sure that pick-up truck of his could handle the mileage. >> remember, he's got that blue collar appeal. and that does play with many massachusetts voterst. >> hey, thank you, susan. thank you, robert. good to see you again. up next, a new poll finds a
but as we approach the new year, the gop has switched between those who want to avoid going over the cliff rather than a tax increase. public opinion of the party is changing as cnn opinion research poll out this week shows a majority of americans, 53%, say republican party policies are too extreme. back in 2010, that number was only 39%. joy reed is managing editor of the the grio and steven moore is an editorial writer for the wall street journal. joy, react to the news of what went on last night with speaker boehner, the president's response to it today and what it all says about the gop and the strife within the poorty. >> well, michael, first of all, it was stunning. in court, you never put a witness on the stand unless you know what they're going to say. you just had eric canter, the house majority leader saying the day before that they were going to pass that he had the votes.
does he not communicate? do these guys not talk to each other? i don't understand how john boehner allowed himself to be really humiliated by his caucus. that said, it isn't surprising because this isn't the new congress that was e lekted in november. this is the same congress fuelled by this tea party, hard core rejectionest group that hasn't been able to pass anything in two years. they came here to blow the place up, not to make legislation and they really just haven't changed because of the election. >> steven, how much of this has to do with perhaps disappointment in speaker boehner negotiating in good faith with the president? in other words, maybe they don't want him doing that? >> well, there was a lot of concern among the house republicans that i talked to that -- there were two problems. one was speaker boehner, i think did a poor job. and i'm not an adversary of speaker boehner. i like the man. there was concern that he just wasn't kmooun kating what he was doing. look, i'll tell you this. house republicans do not trust
barack obama. they just don't trust him. you mentioned the debt ceiling, they don't think he's negotiating in good faith on the fiscal cliff. so they just didn't touch speaker boehner when he went into these closed door meetings. and that kind of lack of trust, i think, was reflected in the fact that he couldn't get the 218 votes that he needed yesterday. but when i talked to him today, we kept in tact our virginity. we didn't vote for a tax increase. and that, i think, is the most important thing in terms of the brand of the republican party. the republican party has got to be an anti-tax party. >> i think the contrary would be that the brand has become one of obs innocence. he's met them half way on taxes and spending. but i think that's what the rest of the country wants to hear.
they're sick and tired of the polarization. >> well, i think that's right. and, look, i do disagree with the characterization of president obama's compromise on spending cuts. there have been none. and i think that's a big problem when you have a $1.1 trillion deficit. the only thing this debate has really been about for the last five weeks has been about tax increases. you're right. the republicans are playing a pretty weak end. as you both know, if nothing happens, then all the taxes go up. part of me says look, the republicans have to get this behind them. go into 2013 where they'll have a stronger hand. on things like the debt ceiling, what do we do to bring down the rest of the trillion deficit. but right now they're stymied. but i do think that by january 1st, they will have a deal in hand. i still think so. >> joy reid, have those conservative republicans, who wouldn't go along with speaker boehner's plan b last night actually strengthen president obama's hand? because as between the two men, speaker boehner and president
obama, one clearly now has the upper hand in terms of leverage and negotiation. >> yeah, completely. and president obama went into this with all of the leverage. and now he's just gotten more. look, at the end of the day, the republican party, this is what they rejected. they could not abide the idea of raising taxes only on millionaires. this was set up by their own speaker. john boehner set this deal up that you would only raise taxes on millionaires. they can't even do that. that's why the poll shows that people think the party is too extreme. you know what else is with this bill? there is a companion bill that would have cut meals on wheels, that would have cut lunches for kids. all of the keynesian fans cities of right where people like paul ryan are yeah, we'll go along with that while raising spending on defense. so john boehner put the entire ideological kit bag of the republican party on display, and they couldn't even vote for that. at the end of the day, at the end of the day, now they're going to get nothing. because all the taxes will go up after the fiscal cliff. >> but hold on, because i think
you're being too triumphant about this. the truth is you're right. democrats right now are probably winning the fight on taxes. >> definitely. >> but you know what? but the truth is the republicans are winning the fight on spending. because you know what is going to happen on january 1st? we're going to get that sequester. and i guarantee you, liberals are going to scream bloody murder about the cuts. the cuts are very significant. >> how harmless in the sequester are all of the entitlement programs. defense is going to get a $500 billion cut. >> that's true. i hate to see it. >> you know what? that actually is the only way you're ever going to cut defense. and they held harmless to most americans. your side has lost this negotiation. >> stephen, may i throw one other issue into the mix? >> but you're also going to get steep -- just read what the left is saying. they're say oh my god, with un100,000 teachers are going to lose their job, nurses are going to lose their job. >> and republicans are fine with that that's what you want. >> we wanted to cut the program for 20 years. >> the gop brand, because i think the net net of what has gone on in the last 24 hours does not bode well for the party.
i add to that mix the statements that were made by lane lapierre earlier today. you may say michael, what's that got to do with the fiscal cliff? i think there is an association that many people have in their mind between the nra and the republican party. obviously, the nra more supportive of gop candidates, by and large, than democratic candidates. and the statement he made today about arming someone in every school i think is out of the mainstream. aren't these all related problems that people are perceiving the republicans as being out of sync, way too conservative? >> i think that what president obama has tried to do from the start of these negotiations is to try to divide and conquer the republican party and destroy the republican party. and the way the republican party would be destroyed is if republicans abandon their basic principle. i don't want the talk about gun control, because i don't know a lot about that. but i will talk about this. if the republicans abandon their principles of limited government and less taxes, no. republicans can't vote for a tax increase because republicans don't believe in raising taxes.
we don't want to raise taxes on anybody. we don't want to raise taxes on millionaires. we don't want the raise taxes on people who make $50,000 or $20,000. that's a core principle because the problem with the budget is spending. >> you have the final word. i've got run, unfortunately. but think thank you, joy reid. >> thank you, stephen moore. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> when we return, let me finish "zero dark thirty," the great movie about getting bin laden, and the difference one person can make. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics.
last night here in new york city i saw the movie "zero dark thirty." the film gets its wide release on january 11. i thought it lived up to the hype. the catherine bigelow movie about the takedown of bin laden was spell binding, epithet conclusion, even though you know how it ends. but much of the advance attention has been focused on how the movie begins, the graphic depiction of an al qaeda prisoner being harshly interrogated. earlier this week three u.s. senators took issue with that sequence. they fear that american moviegoers will get a distorted impression of the role of torture in our getting bin laden. the first half hour of the movie depicts the interrogation of a figure called amar. he appears based on mohammed al qahtani, who was harshly interrogated, although not waterboarded. at gitmo, qahtani was one individual who identified bin laden's courier, a key break in
the hunt for bin laden. when we eventually learned the courier's real name and found him, he found bin laden. in real life, one month before september 11th, qahtani was denied admission to the united states when an astute i.n.s. agent named jose melendez perez wouldn't allow him to enter the airport. so qahtani returned to the middle east and was later apprehended fighting with bin laden at tora bora. the 9/11 commission later determined he was to have been the 20th hijacker. part of the evidence? 9/11 ringleader mohamed atta awaited him at the orlando airport. so for me, "zero dark thirty" is a reminder of the power of one person. one week ago today, we saw the power of one individual to do horrific things. well, this was the opposite. if jose melendez perez had allowed qahtani into the united states, he would have been aboard flight 93. arguably, his added muscle could have kept the passengers at bay for the 20 more minutes the